For Your Health: Dieting Done Right


The beginning of a new year is always a great time to break out your sweatbands and get on that resolution that you never got around to completing last year: getting back into shape But with so many “quick and easy” dieting programs advertised today, it can be difficult deciding how to diet the right way.

One of the most important steps is to realize that there is no such thing as the “perfect body.” The unrealistic images propagated in the media should not be used as a model for your goals. Diet for your health first and foremost. It is also necessary to grasp that losing weight– and keeping it off– is a commitment, not a five-step plan.

To set your resolution in stone, make a list of what you plan to do to avoid being sedentary for most of the day i.e. binging on Netflix or Hulu. It is more tangible than promising yourself to work out and it will hold you accountable. Your regimen doesn’t have to be limited to a structured program. Pursue activity along with exercise; your goal is to get moving for a total of 60 minutes. This means that it doesn’t have to be all at once, but instead broken up throughout the day. Whatever you choose to do, it is important that you enjoy that activity – being healthy and keeping off weight should be seen as a lifestyle. Don’t force yourself to run if you end up dreading it each day you wake up. There is a multiplicity of options from taking a Zumba class to taking a Saturday off to hike with some friends –get them active too.

A change in your eating habits can also have a big impact with weight loss. Fortunately, you don’t need to make drastic changes in your diet like cutting out all sugary or processed foods. Small adjustments can be very beneficial. Being aware of what and how you eat during the day is also helpful. Breakfast is called the most important meal of the day for a reason: it gives you the energy you need to metabolize food and function properly during the day. Eat a bit more slowly to allow your body to decide when its had enough and don’t feel obligated to clear your plate as long as you eat your vegetables. Before each meal, drink a glass of water so that you don’t feel as hungry afterwards. Remember that everything should come in moderation. Indulge in a slice of cake or bowl of ice cream every once in a while to reward yourself.

Under no circumstances should starving yourself ever be considered as an option. Negative long-term effects far outweigh the hope of being skinnier. Dietary restriction slows down your metabolism, so resuming a normal diet causes the body to gain the weight it lost during the starvation period. Nutrient deficiencies and dehydration can trigger the development of some irreversible effects like the failure of the kidneys or an eating disorder. From Nov. 19, 1944 to Dec. 20, 1945, the University of Minnesota conducted the Minnesota Starvation Experiment in order to observe and study the physiological and psychological effects of starvation. Over a 24-week period of semi-starvation, the volunteers experienced  an increase in severe emotional distress and depression. The ability to comprehend, concentrate, and make judgments was also impaired. It is better for you physically and mentally to exert the self-control and manage your eating habits then to take such drastic measures.

The effort it takes to lose just a modest amount of weight is a small price to pay for the long term benefits. You’ll have the energy to do more (studying) and improve your quality of life. By adjusting your behavior now, you’ll be setting yourself on the right path to living a long, healthy life.